The Link Between Stress And GI Issues
Chances are, everyone reading this has had some stress in their lives either short or long term. There are deadlines at work, traffic jams, family crises, and let’s not forget about the past year with financial stress and health worries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have been experiencing gastrointestinal conditions lately, you might already suspect the link between stress and GI issues is real and can become chronic.
When we are stressed, our adrenal glands release the stress hormone cortisol into our bloodstream. This
When we go through chronic stress and anxiety, we may eat more, or eat more unhealthy foods, smoke more, and drink more alcohol and coffee. Besides helping us put on the pounds, these unhealthy habits can also cause stomach or GI discomfort.
In more serious cases, stress can decrease the amount of blood flow and oxygen to our stomach which can bring on cramping, an imbalance of gut bacteria, and inflammation.
When we experience long-term or chronic stress, it can have long-lasting effects. It can change how our body manages fats and immune defenses. In turn, we may develop a collection of diseases including obesity, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and a high concentration of fats in the blood known as hyperlipidemia.
Stress can also aggravate the following gastrointestinal disorders:
- IBS or irritable bowel syndrome
- IBD or irritable bowel disease
- Peptic ulcers
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Solutions And When To See Your Gastroenterologist
There are some tried and true ways to manage your stress and anxiety. Getting more exercise, laughing every day, learning to manage time better, monitoring your negative thoughts, and also learning how to say “no” sometimes can help.
If you are still struggling with a gastrointestinal issue after taking steps to manage your stress, be sure to discuss it with the highly trained gastroenterologist at Digestive Health Services.
If you see bloody stools or are losing weight, this could be cause for concern. Don’t write everything off as stress. Listen to your body and seek the care you need.